Understanding the Different Types of Pediatric Eye Diseases

While eye diseases are more common in older adults, children and babies experience a variety of eye diseases as well. Early intervention can correct or save their sight, improve their eye health and, subsequently, improve their quality of life for many years. 

Common refractive error issues such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism can be treated with glasses or contact lenses. However, several pediatric eye diseases may affect more than just your child's sight. 

Signs of eye issues in children can be challenging to detect because young children can't describe their problems. The pediatric ophthalmologists, Brendan Cassidy, MD, Laura Kueny, MD, and Patrick Burke, MD, at ABC Children's Eye Specialists PC shed light on the different pediatric eye diseases and the signs of problems that can affect your child's eye health. 

Strabismus

Strabismus, also known as cross-eye, affects about 4% of children. Signs that your child has strabismus are if their eyes do not look straight ahead together. One may turn in, out, up, or down, while the other looks straight ahead. 

It's important to treat this condition right away because it will lead to a weak eye. When the brain receives two signals, it discounts one of them, leading to a weakening of one eye’s signal. Treatment options range from glasses and contacts to eye muscle surgery.

Amblyopia

You might know this condition by the term lazy eye. It develops when the child has a vision problem in one eye. As a result, that eye sends weak signals to the brain. The brain then ignores signals from that eye, and subsequently, that eye gets weaker and doesn't develop properly. 

A child can develop amblyopia when other eye diseases, such as strabismus and refractive errors, don't get addressed promptly and effectively. Treatment means getting the child’s brain to pay attention to the signal from the weaker eye. 

Options here include glasses, wearing a patch over the stronger eye to force the child to use the weaker eye, getting atropine drops to blur the vision in the stronger eye, or surgery

Chalazion

When an oil gland in your eye gets clogged, a chalazion, a swollen lump, can form. It usually develops on the upper eyelid, causing it to swell. 

Most of the time, chalazions go away on their own without treatment. If your child’s chalazion doesn’t clear up, they may need an excision to drain it or steroid injections to ease the inflammation and swelling.

Cataracts

While cataracts are more common in older people, some children are born with them. Cataracts are a clouding of the usually clear lens on the front of your eye. If your child is born with a cataract, they’ll need surgery to remove the cataract so they can see clearly.

Ptosis

Ptosis is a droopy eyelid. In addition to affecting your child's appearance, a droopy eyelid can interfere with your child's ability to see out of that eye. Surgery is usually the only treatment to correct ptosis.

The best way to diagnose and treat common pediatric eye diseases is to schedule regular eye appointments for your children or to make an appointment if you notice any issues such as excessive squinting, tearing, or eye rubbing. 

For more information on children's eye diseases, call ABC Children's Eye Specialists PC, which has offices in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona. 

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